Search Engine Showdown: Google Vs Live Search

April 20th, 2009 by Xerxes Leave a reply »

In my (what i hope to complete) series of comparing Google to other search engines, The first engine i’m testing out is Microsoft Live Search.

I guess the first (obvious) thing to try is to search for my name (on a side note, i’m soooo tempted to use “google” as a verb, but that would be inappropriate when testing out the competition, no?). The first two results are correct, or at least relevant (ie: my website) and the rest of the results are neither here nor there in terms of relevance – there really wasn’t a whole lot it could do with my name except find literal matches in page content.

One thing which surprises me is that the results returned vary greatly depending on how many results I show on each page. Setting the limit to the minimum of 10, and I seem to get results all about me and most of them pretty relevant chronologically. However if i switch it to 30 results per page the niceties pretty much drop dead as the search results spew into variations of my Facebook profile in different culture sub-domains (ja-jp being the most relevant out of about 7 others). FAIL.

Live search, (unlike Google) has a neat little equation solver (example), which would have been great about 10 years ago when i was actually doing calculus and solving quadratic equations. Relevant now? Probably not. I would expect the Wolfram Alpha to drop a big steaming shizzle all over this feature given it’s company history. So Maths equation solving – FAIL.

One problem i’m finding is that i’m just not used to the format of search results from Live search. I find that if what i’m searching for is not essential to what i’m doing (or should be doing) it turns me off and i want to just leave the site without getting any results. This is a very bad UX and it’s probably all in my perception of what “good” search results look like.
Must fight urge to judge a book by it’s cover.

……<fast forward a few days>……

and so it is i come to the end of the week and in all seriousness it couldn’t come soon enough. I tried, I really did. Microsoft has a loooong way to go before they could even begin to think about claiming that their search engine is actually a competitor to Google, and not just another smoking pile of crap. You know things are in trouble when you need to create a short-cut to Google’s search because the Live results are just plain inadequate.

Suffice to say, i’m very disappointed with Live Search and don’t think it’s ready to be considered a contender for search king of the net. i’m glad to get my browser away from it and move onto something else.

Yahoo – stand up. You’re next.

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